DeAndre Williams scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Wednesday night as No. 9 Memphis held Virginia Tech scoreless for more than four minutes down the stretch of a 69-61 win in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Tigers (5-0) will face Iowa State, which upset No. 25 Xavier 82-70 in the first semifinal, on Friday night for the tournament title. The Hokies (5-1) and Musketeers will play for third place in the first game.
Virginia Tech held its only lead when Nahiem Alleyne, who led all scorers with 21 points, drilled a 3-pointer with 4:41 remaining to make it 56-55. But Landers Nolley drained a 3-pointer 17 seconds later to start a 10-0 run that decided the game.
Memphis’ defense more than made up for its struggles on offense. The Hokies canned just 33.9 percent from the field and seemed out of sorts all game against the quick, long, tall Tigers.
Keve Aluma scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Virginia Tech, but made just 5 of 17 shots.
Memphis won despite shooting only 39.3 percent from the field and getting relatively little from star freshmen Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates. The team’s top two scorers were held to 6 and 9 points, respectively.
The game was billed as a battle of Memphis’ youth and athletic ability against Virginia Tech’s experience and savvy. It became apparent early that the Tigers’ length would give the Hokies trouble on nearly every possession.
Memphis established a 17-7 lead at the 13:03 mark of the first half when Alex Lomax canned a 3-pointer in transition, capping a 10-0 run. It held Virginia Tech scoreless for nearly 4 1/2 minutes.
But the Hokies kept working the game and pulled within 19-17 on Storm Murphy’s driving layup with 8:27 remaining. A foul shot by Justyn Mutts tied the game at 29 with 1:25 left.
However, the Tigers got to halftime with a 33-30 lead as Lomax stole the ball from Murphy and fed Malcolm Dandridge for a transition dunk with 1.6 seconds on the clock.